Identifying Mrs Meeke: Another Burney Family Novelist

Letter from Frances Burney to Sarah Rose [‘Rosette’] Burney, March 22, 1784
Monday, April 15, 2013 - 11:00am

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Room 39
121 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511


Frederick A. and Marion S. Pottle Fellow
Simon Macdonald
Edinburgh University

Recent scholarship suggests that the most prolific English-language novelist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was a certain "Mrs Meeke," a Minerva Press author who produced twenty-six novels between 1795 and 1823, several of them presented pseudonymously or anonymously, as well as a series of translations and children’s books. Who was this writer? Drawing on a range of previously untapped evidence, this research presentation demonstrates that "Mrs Meeke" can be identified as Elizabeth Meeke, a step-sister of Frances Burney, the most prestigious novelist of the period. The final section of this presentation discusses the implications of this discovery.

Simon Macdonald is a Teaching Fellow in Early Modern European History at University College London, and is also affiliated with the UCL Centre for Transnational History. He received a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge in 2011, and has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, and a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome. His research revolves around the cultural history of British links with Europe during the eighteenth century, focusing on population exchange, transnational groups, and their material traces. His recent publications include 'English-language newspapers in revolutionary France' (Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 2012). While at the Beinecke he is working on a book project titled French Connections: British Communities in Eighteenth-Century France.


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